There was a time when I loved Gary Moore – and it was mostly because of this album. I mean I was excited about his pedigree (Thin Lizzy) and his hard-rock background. I was a kid. And rock guitar was my jam. And 1990 was the year that I got really hooked on guitarists and also the year that I really felt I was forming my own tastes with music. I mean, sure, I remained indebted to my older brother and my folks for a few more years and I was still hooked on The Beatles and Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and so many other guitar-based things including the blues of B.B. King and Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker. All of them things I’d first heard in the family collection. But I was also seeking out the guitar in other areas and bringing back albums by Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Tommy Emmanuel. I signed up to Guitar World – even though I played the drums. I liked it for the articles. And if the odd guitar-porn centrefold of a vintage axe ended up on my wall it was probably just by mistake eh…or because we didn’t have recycling then…
So – that’s the backdrop. And Gary Moore was on my mind even though I’d never really listened to him. I remembered the ad on late-night TV for After The War – the last of his rock records as a solo act. All I really knew was the ad – and that was enough. There was a charge to it. I liked the sound. Even if I’d only heard a snippet. All the confirmation I needed was that it – and some other albums by Moore and by Thin Lizzy – was in my uncle’s record collection (along with Floyd and Zep and Cream and CCR and, you know, the things!)
So Still Got The Blues was an album I bought. And an album I loved. It was such a gateway. It sent me off to hear Albert Collins and Albert King, I imported records by them. I was thrilled to hear George Harrison tear out a slide solo on this album too. I knew he was a great slide player but I hadn’t really heard him play this way. I liked the Guitar World story that Moore and Harrison were neighbours; that was the hook-up. (I always loved those stories).
And so Still Got The Blues became the thing for a while.
Look, it was always closer to George Thorogood than Stevie Ray Vaughan. And even though Peter Green was Moore’s hero and Peter Green and his band Fleetwood Mac (in all its versions) was one of my favourite things too I don’t think Moore really ever quite got there. He could hold a note, sure. Often annoyingly so (Parisienne Walkways) but there’s no real feeling in any of this. It’s all so fuckin co(l)d.
Clapton is God.
Man I wish I had the balls, the insight back then, or even just the spray can to have been the one to riff on that:
Moore is Cod.
Gary Moore is in this list twice for two different ventures. I wrote about BBM’s album, Around The Next Dream. And a lot of the complaints on that are relevant to the complaints on this. It’s the same sound, ultimately. A sound of trying too hard basically.
Questioning blues authenticity is probably a slippery slope and it certainly isn’t ever for one white man to say that another white man isn’t truly the real deal – as none of us are, nor ever could be – but Moore’s tone is all wrong, his playing is a cliché, his feel is fucked and his singing is hopeful and impassioned in entirely the wrong ways. He has nothing to say lyrically beyond tired old clichés and re-treads and rewrites and his cover versions only ever stack up as business cards for the originals.
But when I play this album – once a year or so (and I’ve given it a hoon twice just recently) – I’m filled with the nostalgia of when this was a business card, calling card for the blues; my license to drive other albums and truer versions by better players. So I must always thank Moore for that. Less is more what I want to hear usually. But Gary Moore’s overly-enthusiastic over-playing was an important part in my learning that too. And so I hear the faults when I listen to this but I somewhat bathe in them. I’m reminded not just of the music this pointed me to but the many good times I had as an earnest young learner. For a time this was one of my favourite tapes in my collection. An album I introduced to the family rather than the other way around. That was important too.
It was diminishing returns after this for Gary. The same blues attempts over a half dozen records in service to the muse of Peter Green without a shadow of Green’s magic touch. But hey. He was always a better guitarist than me.